Tag Archive: Christianity is more than love


Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Ch...

Faithful Unto Death – Christianæ ad Leones (Christians to the Lions). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice I didn’t say like.

Our command, our marching orders are to love.  Not because it’s easy, or even fun, but that’s the Christian ethic.  Sometimes we have to love people we may not even like very much.  We are not told to revolt, rebelling against the rightfully, God established government.  Neither are we to collaborate, trying to reach some weak-kneed compromise.  And don’t even think about withdrawing, if Jesus wouldn’t pray that we be taken out of the world, then why would we ever think that’s the best answer.

I am still hearing all kinds of goofy talk about revolting against the authorities in place.  Not sure what part of Paul instructing the early Christians to submit to the magistrate some people are thinking does not apply to them.  Lets be honest any kind of “persecution” you or I face today as a result of our Christianity is little more than a pinch compared to what the early church went thru.  I don’t know about you but I have not heard of a single Christian in America being used as a living torch for an executive BBQ.  No reports that I am aware of a circus lion noshing on anyone for claiming the name of Christ.  So let’s get real about persecution.  Let me be blunt and probably irritate more than a few, but the Church in America should be so lucky as to come under real persecution.  Before you rant go look at what is happening to the church in China.

Love isn’t compromise

The another option is to collaborate.  I know some would say let’s find the common ground and work on that.  Now I’m not saying be antagonistic for the sake of argument.  But what is going on when a church leader is ignoring the Christian ethic we are commanded, not a suggestion by the way, to tell and show the truth.  For example what the heck is the snuggling up to Hinduism, Buddhism, or some other ism because there is 10-15% similarity.  Are you really going to try to convince me, or worse yourself that God is going to someday in the future tell you that since you had good intentions that is good enough?  I would love you to show me where you read that in the Bible.
Finally, disappearing into the mountains in Montana with freeze-dried food and a handful of guns isn’t the answer either.  If Jesus wouldn’t pray for his disciples to be taken out of the world, what makes you think your special?  What’s more the world needs you, your salt, your light.  You have an obligation, a duty to show people Jesus, in word and in deed.  If you’re not then what value does your “Faith” really have?

Not easy doesn’t mean hard.

What the heck made you think it was going to be?  Maybe someone told you when you came to Christ the suffering would be over.  “Just come to Jesus and it’s all going to be  rainbows and unicorns.”  I hope not, but if they did I’m sorry.  It’s not easy, but compared to the alternative what else are you going to do?  Being a Christian is not for the faint of heart.  On the upside the one who runs the show has said he will be there no matter what happens.
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How much time, energy, and effort am I wasting trying to keep my failures, and short-comings secret from the one who already knows everything. Not only what I have already done but what I will do.

Love that makes no sense

The God who created everything knows not just my past which is bad enough, but also knows my failures to come.  And yet I can not really fathom this, God still chooses to love me.  He chooses to love you, faults and all.  Not because either of us deserve it, or can even hope to earn it.  I can’t, and I see so many trying.  As if that kind of love could ever be earned, deserved or purchased.  Would it even be called love if you earned it?
I don’t think so, I’m not sure what you would call it.  Maybe admiration but definitely not love.  Love real love can only be given and received freely.  Is it conditional?  It seems so at least in that we have to accept it, and why God chooses to love us.

Letting myself be loved when I don’t feel worthy

On the one hand “God so loved the world” however to experience God’s love at it’s fullest, as God desires to love us, we have to stop fighting against it.  Easier said than done.  I want it on my terms, trying to define what is really best for me.  But history clearly shows that for the lie it is.  I have made and continue to make a mess of it.  Yet all I have to do is submit.  Not a pretty word now a days, but what I need to do non the less.  Not easy, but what is really best for me.
Hard?  Yes, not because of God, because of me.  Even though I know that God wants only the best for me, and for you, I let all my junk get in the way.

Here is to submitting on more time.

I’m not talking about deserters but those walking wounded that have stepped on a landmine and need a caring, gentle hand to nurse them back to health.  Yes the great physician may have amputated a hand, maybe even a leg, but are we then court marshaling our brothers for being damaged?

We all are walking wounded.  Your limp, my missing limb, we all are damaged.  Yet I see time and time again we look at someone failing, and that being used as a reason to shoot our wounded.  I’m not talking about those instances like those referred to by Jesus in Matthew 18 where a brother is in opposition to God.  But what about the sister who way back when did X, and so today she is still being shunned?  The recovering addict, the former gang member, the ex-con, or even the divorced.

Those people

“People will know you are my disciples because of your love for one another.”  Sometimes we, yes we, get so caught up in what someone else might think, that we lack compassion for those around us.  The congregation(church) I attend used to be known as “the drugie” church.  I almost wish we still were.  Not because I want to see people addicted, but because it is up to us to make God known to those who need Him.  It’s all well and good to belong to a congregation where everyone comes dressed up in their Sunday best.  But there also needs to be a place for the hurting, the damaged, the lost, the Christian ethic demands it.

Love others well.

Expect the best of people.  Raise up God’s standard.  But don’t go adding to it.  Yes Jesus said “Go and sin no more”  but He also made a point of reaching out to Peter after the resurrection.
We, you and I, are not suffering from an abundance of love, and grace towards those around us. Maybe it is time to change that.

Perhaps we should try to love too much.

English: Penn Jillette at Rio Las Vegas

English: Penn Jillette at Rio Las Vegas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Issac to God.  But what if God never intends to accept or allow this sacrifice to take place?  If God is all knowing then the plan and the outcome are already known by God.  If on the other hand God does not know what Abraham will do and what’s going to happen then God is not God, but god.

So which is it?

“If god(however you perceive him/her/it) told you to kill your child- would you do it” …….”if your answer is yes, please reconsider.” Penn Jillette
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me.” Genesis 22:12

Is God different?

What if instead this is looked at in the context of what was unfortunately all to common place in the region at the time.  We know child sacrifice was not uncommon.  What if instead of Abraham being asked to be like those around him, God was showing him that Yaweh was nothing like what others thought of  as God.  “I will provide the sacrifice” says God.  And your children are not what I desire.  If you are going to take a portion of the narrative of what is going on then don’t you have to take it in full.  The account does not give the option that part is true and the rest is not, the sacrifice is required, and the type is stipulated.  Do others make human sacrifice?  Does God ever accept it? Or does he make it clear time and again that those that do as much bring his wrath down on their own heads?
Do we really think that God who is unchangable, has changed his mind?  Or is it any wonder that God no longer blesses a country that sacrifices her children by the millions on the alter of convenience?
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What kind of Love is this?

I was contemplating the story of Christ in the garden when they came to arrest him.  Peter in his usual calm manner, ie: being a hothead, pulls out a sword and cuts off a man’s ear.

 And Jesus knowing these men are going to arrest him and what’s coming next doesn’t say “Good on you Peter”. Instead he stops, heals this guy who is going to help his enemies kill him.
What kind of love is this?  I have a hard time loving some mebers of my family, and I actually like them most of the time.  I can’t imagine loving someone who wants me dead.  Yet isn’t that what the Christian ethic says we are to do, not just when it is easy, or when we feel like it, but all the time.
Next time someone says to me I don’t get this whole God thing, I am going to say “Me to neither.”  I don’t get how God can love me so much that he does what he does in order to have a relationship with me.
I read an article last week from Sacred Struggler, titled “Apologetics: I hate it!” that really struck home.  Now I don’t consider myself an Apologist when compared with Ravi Zacharias or C. S. Lewis but I have a strong interest in the subject.  That said I certainly get where Sacred Struggler is coming from.  Apologetics sounds like such a big impressive word, and I am sure there are some who call themselves apologists who are really more like argumentative-ists.

But what is it really?

Apologetics has really gotten a bit of a bum-rap.  Having an interest in the subject I was recently asked to give a study on the subject to my church’s men’s group at our weekly prayer breakfast, we finish up on Thursday.  Apologetics is not to go around saying “I’m sorry” all the time.  Neither is it to have an argument, or act as some high-powered attorney in a Supreme Court case.
Acts 22:1 “Hear my defense(apologia)which I now offer.”  1 Peter 3:15 “be ready to give an answer(apologia) to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is within you.”
Apologetics is not about winning an argument but rather a way to show those we have contact with at home, work, with friends, family, or co-workers that we have thought about the big questions and as Christians have a different answer.  Michael Spencer at ccapologetics.wordpress.com  does a great job of using this approach.  You can find his podcast on iTunes under apologetics.
I see apologetics as really having three components:
1- To explain Christian ethics and thought.  It amazes me what some people think it means to be a Christian. For a sample see this survey from the UK of self-identified Christians and see what some people think makes them a Christian.
2- To give opposing thought and reason to the worlds philosophy.  Such things as the idea that man has intrinsic value because he is created vs. Darwinism which holds a boy, is a dog, is a pig, is a pollywog.
3-  To explain why we (Christians) are different.

Why do we act different then everyone else.

Sure part of apologetics is defending, but some of it is to show a different way to live.  All of it is to give hope.  Apologetics is not evangelism, but more a way to hopefully start a conversation that will lead to the opportunity to show someone Jesus.  We want to create a curiosity and a desire on the part of the person we are talking with to want to know more.
If you want to see my study on apologetics email me at cognitivefaith@hotmail.com and I will be happy to email you a copy of the study guide and notes.
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Let’s be clear from the start I consider myself as a classical liberal.  For those of you unclear on that I’m big on the responsibility and the value of the individual, limited government low taxes and states rights.  Or what is often referred to as a conservative.  Does this matter, probably not but I’m big on disclosure so there you go.

Do we really need more coarse language?

Ok so the vitriol that spews forth against the current President from people who dare to call themselves Christian is to me amazing.  Christian leadership needs to criticize, speak out against things you think are wrong, even immoral ie: abortion to your heart’s content, but isn’t it time you remembered that you are commanded to have respect for authority for they are placed in office by God.  Read Romans 12 & 13. The magistrate is there to do 2 things.  Punish evil, condone the good.  For a more in-depth analysis of this concept see “The Truth Project” 
Are their laws and actions being taken by the government that I think as a Christian I have a moral obligation to protest, fight against, and do my best to change?  Of course.  We should stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  What you and I should not do is promote hate for people no matter how much we disagree.  You and I have an obligation to reflect the one we call Lord.  If your daring to call yourself by the name of Christ and then saying some of the things I see floating around on Facebook, twitter, and blogs, I have to wonder what you’re trying to show the world.  If your calling yourself a Christian, you are setting yourself up as a witness for Christ.  Are your actions, your language really the way you want people to view Jesus?

Hate the action, not the person.

 Let me be clear, hate is not disagreeing. Hate is not holding the belief that certain actions or lifestyles are wrong.  When my sons were teenagers one of them decided that smoking pot and skipping school was how he would spend his days.  I hated what he was doing, because I love him.  Because I love him, I want what’s best for him.  Not what he wanted to do, and what he thought was best for him.
Likewise if I see someone doing things that aren’t best for them, I hate that too.  Before you go getting all bent jumping on the “judge not lest ye be judged” bandwagon, I’m not judging.  That’s not my place nor do I have the wisdom or the authority.  All I know is what God says.  If you have a problem with that, then it’s for you to deal with, not me.
If your going to call yourself a Christian, especially publicly, we are commanded to love our enemies.  Disagree with the actions, no problem, hate the actions, what you see government or this administration doing all you want.  Oppose it, work to change it.  But please stop spewing the hate of the person, instead of the action.  We, you and I are give direction that we are subject to the authorities God has put over us.

“If your going to preach fire and brimstone you need to do it with tears in your eyes” –  Jim Rohn

What do you think when you see others tearing apart our leaders out of anger, instead of seeking to change things because of love?  What about when it is someone who then claims to be a Christian?

Love your enemies.

Turn the other cheek
Bless those that curse you
Feed and nourish your enemies. – Romans 12: 17-21

Who does that?

Christianity calls for an extreme and radical lifestyle.  A way of life that is vastly different from the main stream.  God comands us to not just be a little different from everyone else.  I am not just asked, it’s not some suggestion, but a command.  Directed to be so different from everyone else that there can be no mistake as to who’s I am.
It does not say don’t hate, dont be mean to, it isnt even be nice to your enemies, it is LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.

It is supposed to be extreme.

Right now and for the past several years there has been a lot of talk about extremism in religion especially in regards to Christianity.  Now I am no expert on Christianity.  But here is what I do know.  The failings of the Christian church in society and culture is not because of people who call themselves Christian acting or being too Christian.  It’s not because we are taking the teachings of Christ too seriously, or working too hard to be like Christ.
In fact the way I see it is just the opposite.  The world, society, even the church is suffering from a lack of extreme Christianity.  Before you start the hate mail or trolling in the comments section.  Notice I did not say extreme Peter-anity, going and cutting off someone’s ear thinking God needs you to physically defend him.  I said extreme Christianity.  Real live dyed in the wool Jesus Freak Radical.

Loving people more than I humanly can.  To stop looking at people in the same way.  Instead to see people we meet as C. S. Lewis described them.  “You have never met a mere mortal.  Everyone you have ever met is either an eternal horror, or an everlasting glory.”

If I looked at everyone from that prospective, and refused to be anything less than an extreme, radical Christian.  I wonder how my little neck of the woods would change?
What about your neighborhood?  Your church, your city?  Does it need a healthy dose of extreme Christian hood?

Believing hard enough, long enough, deep enough is NOT enough.

Everywhere I turn lately it seems like I am being told that I just need to believe. That if I believe enough everything I want will come to me. But what if I am believing the wrong thing? What if I believe that I’m a car and then go run on to the freeway? Or how about if I believe that all the money at the bank is really mine?
Now these may seem extreme, but these are actually some of the less dangerous false beliefs I could hold. In the first I might get hit by a car or a bus, the other I go to prison. But what if I believe Jesus was a good guy, a really smart teacher but not God in the flesh?
How much do you hate your neighbor?
Letting the people around me keep on believing something that is wrong is not loving them. As Penn Jillette states: How much do you have to hate that person if you see them heading to hell and you do nothing”.
Belief, if its in something that is wrong is still wrong no matter how much, how deep, how thoroughly you believe. I keep checking my beliefs to see where something silly or even dangerous might have snuck in.
What about you? Have you really opened up what you believe to look at all the implications?
Who is this God that cares for the weak, the rejects of society? What kind of God? A humble God who cares about the smallest, poorest, weakest. He loves those who can not even care for themselves let alone do something for him. You see he doesn’t need anything from you or I, God wants a relationship with us, but needs nothing.

God wants, but doesn’t need you help.

But don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean and I would never imply that God does not want us to do what we can and make an effort. Look at William Wilberforce who fought slavery for the majority of his adult life, 26 years to get England to outlaw the slave trade and 46 years to bring about the abolishment of slavery. Did God need William to end slavery? Of course not, but he used him.

Easier said then done

Would I risk myself to care for the weak, the powerless, those that can not help themselves. To my shame probably not. At least not on my own. Don’t get me wrong I care about people, but without the realization of what Christ did for me when I could nothing for him, I doubt very seriously that I would be inclined to do for others. Since I know what Jesus did for me, then doing for others is not just easier but required, even necessary. Not just because of what it does for someone else, but for what it does for me.
Has God asked you to do something for someone who can’t return the favor? Did you follow thru, what did it do for you?